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D&D General I'm reading the Forgotten Realms Novels- #202 The Howling Delve by Jaleigh Johnson (Dungeons 2)

Blackrat

He Who Lurks Beyond The Veil
You're right, there were three, not just two. Baldur's Gate, Shadows of Amn, and Throne of Bhaal.

I had a hard time with these three novels, as I read them after I had played the games. Abdel Adrian didn't make the same choices that I did . . . . so the incongruency made the novels difficult for me to enjoy.
I was a bit confused on Goonalan’s post about who this Abdel was, but now I realised they were the protagonist! Thanks! 😂
 

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Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
#122 Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn by Philip Athans (Baldur's Gate 2)
Read 15/4/21 to 16/4/21


IMG_2771.JPG


So, it wasn't as bad as everyone said it was going to be, at least I didn't think so.

It is what it is, which as we've established a tie-in for PC game, so there's lots of action- there are more fights in this one than any two or three other FR novels that I have read, or so it seemed to me- it took me two days to read it. That's because there's so much action, and so little plot- except the stuff that we're told about, or we get to see in the behind the scenes (meet the villains) cut-scenes.

But, that's what it does.

We've established that already, this one isn't rich in history and revelation- not nuanced, not anything like that.

It has sex- gay, straight, and masturbation.

It's not that badly written, not porno- not all innuendo, just... well, sex.

Vampire meets Bhaalspawn sex.

Drow Matroness meets different Bhaalspawn sex.

Clearly the fantasy fiction market has grown bolder, or else more aware of its teenage/young adult market, maybe.

In essence this one then is a series of fights and/or confrontations. The would-be good guys- Abdel, Jaheira & Imoen, and maybe Yoshimo, oh and don't forget Minsc & Boo- but mainly the first three, seemingly have to solve a series of fairly unconnected problems and in doing so thwart Irenicus.

Imoen and Irenicus are new to the action.

The action is... well, epic.

And spectacular with spells, necromancy, the slayer, the drow, vampires, the Bhaalspawn, assassins, priestesses, minotaur, an ancient silver dragon... just anything, everything- just throw it all at wall and see what sticks.

Which again, just makes it easy to read.

I learned little about the realms, but I enjoyed my time here- particularly the time spent with Bodhi, the vampirette. It was great to get her perspective, again- for use in my home game.

It was okay, not great- not badly written, just very easy- uncomplicated, but in places interesting and exciting.

Read.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
For me, this was the nadir of the trilogy. I distinctly recall being confused by a lot of what was going on, as a lot of the characters' decisions seemed to be driven by the needs of the plot rather than what seemed like good ideas. Of course, I can't follow up on that vague impression with any examples, so take that with a grain of salt.

I do recall Minsc and Boo, if only because everyone in the world was shouting "Go for the eyes, Boo!" by that point. I'll note that the whole "he's a miniature giant space hamster" bit was how a lot of people saw Spelljammer in a nutshell, though I've always found it kind of an odd fit since it retains an element of bemusement at the weirdness of it all, tinged with a vague sense of disbelief at the idea of that being how it really works. The people of the Realms can deal with gods throwing temper tantrums and magic going haywire on a semi-regular basis, but giant hamsters in space is where they draw the line?

The big fight scene at the end of the book is where I began sighing and shaking my head a lot, though. Abdel (spoiler alert) transforms into an even bigger, scarier monster and goes on a rampage through the bad guys. I don't have a problem with the idea of successive power-ups via transformation, but you need to properly lampshade those things. Their importance to the story requires proportional foreshadowing and explanations regarding how such things work, and I don't recall that being done here. Instead, it felt like a fairly brazen escalation with nothing supporting it except a plot requirement. Maybe the underlying elements where there and I just didn't read closely enough?

Either way, I liked the next book a lot more.
 

Shadowedeyes

Adventurer
The monster form was actually an ability you got in the Baldur's Gate 2 game if I remember correctly, although as a story point it may not have been used well in the story, it has been a long time since I've read them.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Stopping in at my local library's perpetual used book sale, I picked up a copy of The Best of the Realms, and realized that it wasn't on the big list of novels found at the beginning of this thread. @Goonalan you might want to consider adding this one; while almost all of the short stories in it are reprinted from other anthologies, "Empty Joys" by R. A. Salvatore is original to this book.
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
Stopping in at my local library's perpetual used book sale, I picked up a copy of The Best of the Realms, and realized that it wasn't on the big list of novels found at the beginning of this thread. @Goonalan you might want to consider adding this one; while almost all of the short stories in it are reprinted from other anthologies, "Empty Joys" by R. A. Salvatore is original to this book.

I thought I asked earlier, either in this post, or in thread I started earlier (before I started reading these) about the best of novels- I'm pretty sure someone told me that the Best of the Realms were all just stories published elsewhere in the anthologies, and the like.

Is there just one story I need to read in it, or...

Also, do you know about-

#185 Dragons: Worlds Afire Anthology by Various

Has this one got 'new' stories in it as well?

Any info gratefully received.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers goonalan
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I thought I asked earlier, either in this post, or in thread I started earlier (before I started reading these) about the best of novels- I'm pretty sure someone told me that the Best of the Realms were all just stories published elsewhere in the anthologies, and the like.

Is there just one story I need to read in it, or...
Just the one, by Salvatore. The book openly says what anthologies all of the others are from, but it's quite clear that the final story is all-new. Insofar as I can tell, it hasn't been reprinted anywhere else.
Also, do you know about-

#185 Dragons: Worlds Afire Anthology by Various

Has this one got 'new' stories in it as well?
All I know about that one is what's on its Forgotten Realms wiki page, which seems to imply that all of the stories there are new, even if only one of them is set in the Realms (and that story was later reprinted in The Legend of Drizzt anthology).
 

Goonalan

Legend
Supporter
#123 Baldur's Gate II: The Throne of Bhaal by Drew Karpyshyn (Baldur's Gate 3)
Read 22/4/21 to 25/4/21


IMG_2773.JPG


I think some folk here said that this was the best one, I didn't think so- it was, okay- particularly at the end, for the last fifty or so pages but the rest of it just read like a game, with some odd scenes that seemed to play out offstage.

So, I'll start with the positive, there's a nice twist at the end (sorta) and Balthazar is chop-socky fantastic, and the wise one of the five that has SPOILERS figured it out- although, not all of it. That was a nice surprise but by this point I was kinda fed up with the rage machine that is Abdel the ultimo-Bhaalspawn. There's a bit of building done for each fight- the range of Monks/Mooks that face our hero, and then... carnage. The author even takes the time to let us know that none of the hits Abdel is taking amount to very much- such is his regen.

That sucks a bit of the fun out of it.

I also liked the fact that Abdel gives it all up at the end, and easy as- I don't wanna be a god, I want to get back to Candlekeep and go about my day, and start on with the grieving process, maybe- eventually, build a new life.

You've got to admire that, nice ending.

But some of the other stuff, I just couldn't get my head around.

Oh. But I also liked Gromnir, he was suitably off the wall, bat-naughty word-crazy.

And I liked Melissan for a while, mostly towards the end when she was trying to power up to goddess level. Some nice description of the process, I may steal some of this.

But the death of Jaheira, and the later day dragon- and the fact that a lot of this just seemed to happen elsewhere, I wanted to see more- to witness more of the action.

Likewise the drow assassin, I forget her name, she came across as very child-ish/like, and then after dragging Imoen through hell and back (in the previous novel and the start of this one), well Abdel's Bhaal-sister gets killed in a paragraph.

That's the odd thing- there's two pages (or so) of Imoen trying to figure out if Melissan has tricked her, she spends a good long time explaining to the reader why her present situation is both suspicious, and... explainable (and therefore not suspicious).

Then... she gets killed.

The drow assassin- Sendai, we get two pages of her telling the reader how she got to be the way she is, the trials and tribulations of home-time in Ched Nasad (again from memory), and by doing so we get to (maybe) like her a little more.

Then... Abdel tears her apart, and the fight doesn't even warrant a paragraph.

So, build- build- build, and then... disappointing ending for character.

As stated above, the finale is grand- and Balthazar makes it (not Abdel), by the end I was hoping that Sarevok would get back into it somehow, he seemed much more heroic on the rebound.

Oh, and early doors- when we get to meet the first of the five, sorry Five, Illasera is described as the toughest of the Five, I think from memory- well, she gets killed first. And again, not just killed by torn to shreds.

It's build- build- build, and then...

But you get it.

Read.

At least the first two had a go at making the reader laugh at the fact they were in an end of the world fantasy fiction style event, and they had much better dialogue- this one just seemed really dry.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
So, I'll start with the positive, there's a nice twist at the end (sorta) and Balthazar is chop-socky fantastic, and the wise one of the five that has SPOILERS figured it out- although, not all of it.
That's what did it for me. I confess that there's a fair amount of the beginning and middle of this book that I don't recall, but Balthazar was such a great character that he makes the end of the story really stand out in my memory. That counts for a lot, at least to me, since I think the most important part of the story is the ending (I know some people say the beginning is the most important part, since it needs to hook readers; I disagree). That this ended the trilogy makes it that much stronger to my mind.

Likewise for how all of Abdel's companions are killed off one by one; I found that compelling. While the self-sacrificing hero is a tried-but-true trope, the one where all of the hero's companions die so that he can make it across the finish line is one that we see less often (and when we do it's often paired with resurrections at the end). I find that more impactful, since it means that the hero has to live with the costs of heroism, something which I think should always be heavy since it underscores that not just anyone is cut out to handle the costs of rising to the occasion.

I did roll my eyes at the scene where a celestial arrives and tries to tell Melissan not to become a god, that it's not something mortals are meant to do. Even Melissan can't help but scoff at that, pointing out Cyric. "Cyric was a mistake," replies the messenger. Um, no, he was chosen (along with Midnight) by Ao personally to restore the cosmic balance; Ao said so at the end of the Avatar trilogy. Not to mention all of the other mortals who have become gods in the history of the Realms: Bane, Torm, Myrkul, Velsharoon, Savras, Mystra, Kelemvor, Azuth, and oh yeah, Bhaal himself. Trying to frame what was happening as some sort of cosmic perversion of how things are supposed to be really fell flat for me, creating a dissonant note in an otherwise-likeable ending.

So yeah, the last part made it all worthwhile. Not the best Realms book by any stretch, but it nailed the metaphorical landing, and that's enough for me.
 

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